superstitions the source of nhls tooth woes

Superstitions: The source of NHL’s tooth woes?

 Superstitious rituals are one of the main reasons why National Hockey  League (NHL) team dentists travel with the team during the playoff  season, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of  general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

Professional hockey players strive for consistency, and when there is a  change in a routine game habit, including a visit to the opposing  team’s dentist to treat a traumatic dental injury, the athletes often  feel it negatively affects playing ability, explains Joseph L. Perno,  DDS, FAGD, president of the Academy of General Dentistry and team  dentist for the NHL Philadelphia Flyers and farm-league Philadelphia  Phantoms.

“Many players feel that starting to wear a mouthguard can break their  consistent game pattern,” says Dr. Perno. Although wearing protection  decreases dental injuries acquired from pucks, high-sticking,  cross-checking and slashing, some superstitious anti-mouthguard players  embrace wearing a mouthguard only after being treated for a traumatic  mouth injury, explains Dr. Perno.

Even though a typical NHL player’s mouth experiences more dental trauma  than the average person, Dr. Perno has seen a decrease in the Flyers  dental injuries compared to 20 years ago due to the use of mouthguards  and mouthguard awareness programs.

Dr. Perno has worked with the Flyer’s trainer to help raise the level  of awareness among Flyers players, and to help them realize that the  hockey puck, a 6-ounce piece of inch-thick rubber, can reach 120 mph  and hit their teeth with an impact force of 1,250 lb. “We are finally  beginning to influence some players to hang up their mouthguard   superstitions.”

Why wear mouthguards?

  • The total rehabilitation costs for a single avulsed tooth are more than 20      times the cost of a quality professional mouth guard – lifetime dental      rehabilitation costs can exceed $15,000 per avulsed tooth

  • Mouthguards prevent 200,000 injuries in high school and college football

  • An athlete is 70 times more likely to sustain damage to teeth when not      wearing a mouthguard

  • Almost one-third of all dental injuries are due to sports-related      accidents

  • During a single athletic season, athletes have a 1 in 10 chance of      suffering a facial or dental injury

  • The most commonly injured tooth is the maxillary central incisor, which      receives 80 percent of all dental trauma

  • A mouthguard can also prevent concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents      of unconsciousness, jaw fractures and neck injuries